Planning Your Wedding Day Timeline

Hints & Tips

The Preparations, Hair, Makeup and the Dress …

The times you start getting ready for the wedding will fully depend on several factors, including if you are getting ready at the same venue as your ceremony and how many people need to have hair and make-up done. 

Your hair and make-up artists will be able to give you a good set of times to go with for your morning and guide you on the best start time. 

From the perspective of a videographer, I’ll arrive 2-3 hours before your ceremony to start filming and getting those key preparation shots. 

My main advice here is to get into your dress 1 hour before your ceremony. This may seem a lot, but it gives you buffer time to cover any overruns of hair and make-up and any issues with the dress itself. It’ll also mean you can get into the dress, have any reveals to parents and bridal party and relax for a bit before heading to the ceremony.

Top Tip: Base your timings off your ceremony being an hour earlier than it is, this will make sure everyone is ready and you’ve had chances to get photos and video without any stress.

The Ceremony

The ceremony is the key time to know on your day as it’ll set what times your morning and preparations are going to start, what time your guests arrive and all the events after. 

The most popular times for a ceremony are between 1pm and 3pm with civil ceremonies lasting anything from 10 minutes to 30 minutes and Church ceremonies generally 30 to 45 minutes. Celebrant ceremonies are often 45 to 60 minutes. 

The groom should arrive around an hour before the ceremony and guests should start arriving around 30 minutes before the ceremony. 

It is tempting to put an earlier start time on the invite to help prevent people from being late, but beware that if people turn up “on time” and find that actually it isn’t for another 30 minutes they may get restless. 

The Reception & Wedding Breakfast

You’re wed and the day can actually begin! First things first, your guests will want to congratulate you and you’ll be pulled all over the place by people. 

However, this is also the prime time to do confetti, so speak to your venue about this as most venues that do confetti do it straight out of the ceremony. Allow a good 5-10 minutes for this to be organised and setup. You can just relax while this is happening.

The reception part of your day can be anything from 90 minutes to 2 hours 30, depending on ceremony time and if you need to move venues. 

Depending on your photographer, your formal photos will take place during the reception, this can take 30-60 minutes of time. My advice is to ask your photographer just to allow you some time to interact with guests before the formal photos start, just to allow you some time to take everything in. 

You’ll then likely have some couple portraits, this will take around 15-20 minutes on average. 

Your wedding breakfast times will be organised with your caterers and venue, on average it is 90 minutes to 2 hours plus however long your speeches are. 

Your photographer and videographer will also want a small amount of time to get shots of the room before people enter and it’ll take an average of 15-20 minutes to get all your guests in before you make your grand entrance as well. 


My advice on speeches is to limit all speeches to 30 minutes, so for a traditional 3 speakers, 10 minutes each. Though I also advise the 5-minute rule, tell all speakers they have to do the speech within 5 minutes. 

Any longer than the 30-minute total will have an impact on the rest of your day and if your speeches are before your meal, people will get restless and hungry! 

When should you have your speeches? It is normally before or after the meal depending on your preference. I highly advise against splitting speeches between courses for a number of logistical reasons, including timings that tend to go out the window having to get all your guests back into the room and focused again. If you do want to split speeches, then have x number before the meal and y after. 

The Evening

Your venue will then likely need 60 minutes to turn the room around again for the evening party, band or DJ setup also happens at this time. Depending on the time of year, this can be a good time to do more couple portraits.

Once the room has been turned around, if you are doing it, then it is cutting of the cake into the first dance. You can then party the night away!

The best advice when planning your timeline is to start early and speak to your suppliers for their advice, specifically hair, make-up and the venue. 

Looking to add a wedding videographer to your wedding day? Then get in touch to have a chat about your plans!


Guide to Planning an Awesome Wedding Day!

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